HURRICANE MATTHEW: Just A Little Wiggle Is The Difference Between Major Impact And Nothing At All

BOCA RATON, FL ( — The National Hurricane Center’s 5pm update sums up the reality of hurricane prediction — just a little jog one way or another is the difference between a major event and a windy drizzle.



500 PM EDT TUE OCT 04 2016
The eye of Hurricane Matthew is not as distinct as it was earlier

today, and the change in the overall pattern suggests that the

cyclone is a little weaker due to the interaction with the nearby

high terrain. The initial intensity has been lowered to 120 kt and

some slight additional weakening could occur tonight while Matthew’s

circulation continues to interact with Cuba and Hispaniola. Once

Matthew moves into the Bahamas, the environment is favorable for the

hurricane to maintain category 4 status for the next 2 days. Some

weakening is anticipated beyond 3 days due to an increase of the

wind shear.
Earlier reconnaissance aircraft fixes, satellite and radar data from

Cuba indicate that Matthew is moving toward the north or 360 degrees

at about 8 kt. The hurricane continues to be steered by the flow

around the western edge of a subtropical ridge. Most of the global

models build the ridge westward, and this pattern should force the

hurricane to turn toward the northwest across the Bahamas and to the

waters just east of Florida. The most interesting change this

afternoon is that the ECMWF has forecast a stronger western Atlantic

ridge than in previous runs. This evolution resulted in an

additional leftward shift of the ECMWF track and consequently, the

NHC forecast has also been adjusted to the left, necessitating the

southward extension of the hurricane watch in Florida. Beyond 3

days, the ridge is forecast to move eastward, allowing Matthew to

turn northward and then northeastward.

1. Matthew is likely to produce devastating impacts from storm

surge, extreme winds, heavy rains, flash floods, and/or mudslides in

portions of the warning areas in Haiti, Cuba, and the Bahamas.

Please consult statements from the meteorological services and other

government officials in those countries.
2. When a hurricane is forecast to take a track roughly parallel

to a coastline, as Matthew is forecast to do from Florida through

South Carolina, it becomes very difficult to estimate impacts this

far in advance. For example, only a small deviation of the track to

the left of the NHC forecast could bring the core of a major

hurricane onshore, while a small deviation to the right could keep

all of the hurricane-force winds offshore. It will likely take

another day or so for the potential impacts of Matthew in the United

States to clarify.
3. Tropical storm or hurricane conditions could affect portions of

Florida north of the current Hurricane Watch area, Georgia, South

Carolina, and North Carolina later this week or this weekend, even

if the center of Matthew remains offshore. It is too soon to

specify what, if any, direct impacts Matthew might have on the

remainder of the U.S. east coast farther to the north. At a

minimum, very dangerous beach and boating conditions are likely

along much of the U.S. east coast later this week and weekend.

INIT 04/2100Z 19.8N 74.3W 120 KT 140 MPH

 12H 05/0600Z 21.1N 74.5W 115 KT 130 MPH

 24H 05/1800Z 22.5N 75.3W 115 KT 130 MPH

 36H 06/0600Z 24.0N 76.6W 115 KT 130 MPH

 48H 06/1800Z 25.9N 78.2W 115 KT 130 MPH

 72H 07/1800Z 29.5N 80.3W 100 KT 115 MPH

 96H 08/1800Z 33.5N 78.0W 85 KT 100 MPH

120H 09/1800Z 40.0N 71.0W 70 KT 80 MPH